Memorial Day anoints Route 559 as a clogged summer passage to Ocean City. One Mays Landing Road landmark, however - Golf Specific Fitness - inside Greate Bay Racquet & Fitness Club in Somers Point, helps golfers eliminate congestion affecting their games.
Muscle tightness, hamstring problems, bad backs, knees and hips all block the effectiveness of the swing. Programs at GS Fitness address this specialized world of strength and flexibility training on two major fronts: the golfer teeing up his season and the player in mid-season form.
"We see a lot of players in both categories," says GS Fitness creator Aaron Bada. "For the golfer who has been off all winter and spring, we know there will be a problem if that person goes out and all of a sudden hits five buckets of balls. Yet that certainly happens. We see a lot of problems for players with hamstrings, hips, backs and shoulders."
The facility provides instruction applicable to players in each group. One routine involves kneeling with an outstretched club. As the player turns to one side, club extended, different muscle groups are worked in the back and shoulders. The player turns to the other side to work the opposite muscle groups.
An advanced version involves resistance bands. In Bada's facility, they are attached to a machine. Players can also use them on the golf course by attaching them to a cart. The player pulls on the bands to create more resistance, improved stretching and strength training.
"The resistance bands can work on the course, on a bed post at home or anything that is stationary," Bada says. "This is pushing the bar to the next level in terms of making people prone to less injury. Golf is the only game you can play from the time you are 8 until you are 80, or even longer, which is why you have to take certain precautions along the way."
GS Fitness also has monitors to assess golf swings, highlighted by the role of posture, stance, balance and flexibility. The exercises lay the groundwork for that.
The importance of this training can't be overstated. Tiger Woods' career has been derailed because of knee troubles. Players on all levels increasingly enlist the aid of knee, hip and chiropractic specialists to improve their overall health. In terms of player development, these advances augment the technological breakthroughs offered by new equipment. And they might be better.
"Everyone is searching for something that gives them that extra 10 or 15 yards on their shots," says Dean Halterman, the Galloway National Golf Club assistant pro who recently visited GS Fitness for the first time. "Well, rather than go out and buy a $400 driver, you can go and see Aaron."
Halterman, now in his early 30s, once played on the Hooters Tour, the third largest men's professional golf circuit. Yet lingering back problems coaxed him to pursue a program with Bada in May.
"The back problems really flared out, so I went to Aaron and I'm looking forward to using the tips he gave me," Halterman says. "The problem with my back could be connected to tight hamstrings. I have lost some balance and flexibility over the years and I think this is going to help me get that back."
Golf Specific Fitness
90 Mays Landing Road, Somers Point
Founder: Aaron Bada
Amenities: Strength and flexibility training, swing analysis, in-season and off-season programs.